Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 66

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 66

It’s time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test-take it and see how you do.

  1. Keen
  2. Kernel
  3. Kerslunge
  4. Knee-deep


  1. Keen: to wail or make a sorrowful sound; a sharp high pitched voice or sound. “He walked right down there in the middle of them and in that keen voice he’s got said “What’s a going on here and who’s the captain of this shindig?” They didn’t know what to think about him coming right on in on them like that.”
  2. Kernel: a swelled lump underneath the skin. “I’m taking Tommy to the doctor first chance I get. He’s got a kernel the size of your thumb under his arm. Hal says it ain’t nothing but I’m worried about it.”
  3. Kerslunge: splash; plunge. “She was going across the foot-log in them slick shoes and kerslunge! She went right off in the deepest side of the creek. I know it embarrassed her to death.”
  4. Knee-deep: a bull frog. “I’ve been hearing the peepers for a few weeks now. We won’t here the knee-deeps until later in the summer.”

I’m familiar with all this month’s words-but I don’t hear them all on a regular basis.

  • I hear keen used fairly often.
  • The only person I hear use kernel in this manner is Pap.
  • Again-Pap’s the only person I hear say kerslunge.
  • I know what a knee-deep is-but most people hear just say bull frog.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test.


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  • Reply
    Brian P.T. Blake
    April 25, 2019 at 8:31 am

    “”Keen” is an English word in general use as a verb and an adjective. , I believe. I’ve heard of it as a cry and as a sharp blade and, as someone mentioned above, aperson with high intelligence or ambition.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Kneedeep is the only one I have heard used but no one I know really says it…pretty uncommon in wv I guess

  • Reply
    May 13, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Have heard 1, 2 and 4, but at the swamp near where we grew up, the “Knee Deep, Knee Deep” was always the wee frogs telling the BIG ones how deep the water was, then the big ones would deeply growl “GO ROUND, GO ROUND” if the water was too deep for the little ones to safely pass through, or at least that’s what we were told. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 12, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    But a kernel never came to the surface. The old folks sometimes put a poultice on it to make is come to a head. Then it was called a risen or bile(boil). If you had a kernel and you couldn’t draw it out, you might have blood pisen setting in.
    Sometimes a piece of meat or fatback was used instead of a poultice. Or a piece of tater, placed on the kernel and wrapped to hold it on along with a fervent prayer because if it didn’t come to a head soon, you might die.
    You know a lot of remedies our ancestors used must of (sic) worked elsewise we wouldn’t be here, right?
    My next door buddy’s dad Luther had a finger like B.’s grandmother. He claimed he didn’t have any feeling in it. He could use it to hold the nut while he turned a bolt.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    May 12, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    You stumped this Missouri lass on all of them, although after reading the meaning of “kernal”, I do recall hearing the term used that way.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    and Julie….my, my you just juggled my mind with the word “risin'”! My Grandmother had a “wen” on her finger when she was a young woman. On her right had that eventually caused her finger to permantly bend, sort of like a hook. I was always curious about what caused it! Finally, when I was in high school I asked her about it! She said, “Well, it started out as a “risin'”! When the doctor come by the house one time, he said it was a “wen”.
    When he cut on it it made my finger lock-up, but it finally quit hurtin'”…She rested her crochet hook on that crook on her finger and could mortally fly with that crochet hook! LOL
    Thanks for reminding me of “risin'”…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS..note that the doctor came by the house…she didn’t go to town to the doctor!

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    May 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Keen and kernel I have heard. We also use keen to mean like ” I ain’t too keen on her.” We also use risin’ the same way as kernel. “He had a risin’ on his back the size of a quarter.” Nothing on the other two.

  • Reply
    Jeanette Minix
    May 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Barney says that when he was a kid in a little Ozark school that he was keen on Betty Tucker and that Old Man Blue never had a kernel of truth in him cause he was knee deep in lies.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 12, 2014 at 11:53 am

    My late mother-in-law always said, the way to straighen up overactive boys was to go out to the bush and get a “keen” little limber-switch…I guess she knew she raised 5 of them, 8 total! All I ever had to do was say, “Quit that scrapping” or “I’m goin’ to the switch tree!” Sometimes I had to go to the kitchen door and open it, to hear the silence in the background!
    The first thing Mom did when one of us had a sore throat, was to check for a kernel under our chin by our ears…
    “Kerplop” or “kerplunk” was our word for a “knee-deep” flopping back in the water off the bank!
    I haven’t heard the bull-frogs so far this year that are in the big pond in the pasture. Ed’s right about the sound! Especially if you’re in deep thought about to dose off on a late spring evening! ..The Banjo Frog has been playing his one or two thunks..The peepers have about quit peeping…and now with this rain the tree-frogs are in full choir mode echoing from tree to tree…
    Missed one…
    Love it…
    Have a great day, thank you Tipper for your post!
    PS…My husband added his reference to “knee-deep” as he always heard it…(He just came inside from mulching garden beds)he said,
    Knee-deep in mud.
    Knee-deep in snow.
    He said the term as he recalled when he first heard it was; “knee-deep in trouble” or “knee-deep in another “s” word”, when he was in the service!
    Said he didn’t remember “knee-deep” frogs…only huntin’ bullfrogs…he loves frog-legs…ewwwwwww! He’s from Alabama ya know! I forgave him for that! LOL

  • Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I didn’t make a passing grade today. I’d heard “keen” in books I’ve read but never heard it used. But “kernel” brought back memories–haven’t heard it in years.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Interesting set of words.
    Kernel is a common term to me. In addition to Ed’s explanation of the term, one found in the breast tissue will get a woman in for a mammogram real quick!
    “Keen” I only knew as a term from the 5o’s and early 60’s (I’ve heard it in movies made in the 40’s too) as an adjective like “cool”, “sharp”, “neat”, meaning something impressive – usually to the teens of the age.
    “Knee Deep” makes sense to me when I think of it as a hyphenated word with the accent on “deep”; but I agree with Ed – must be some frog other than a bull-frog.
    Never heard of “kersplunge” but do use “kerplop” (representing a hollow sounding landing) and kerplunk (a less resonating landing).

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 12, 2014 at 9:26 am

    A keen hickory has left stripes on the legs of many a wicked little hellion. Myself included!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 12, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Oh, dear, I had never before heard kerslunge at all –or keen used as anything but a verb. We called bullfrogs bullfrogs, but would imitate their call by saying, “Knee-deep.” Kernel is the only one I got, but come to think of it, folks don’t seem to get kernels anymore. I guess they call them lumps now. Too bad.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 12, 2014 at 9:08 am

    You tripped me up good this time, Tipper! I correctly guessed “kerslunge” because it sounds like what it is, but the only one I knew for sure was “keen”.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 12, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Tipper–I’m intimately familiar with all the words and the phrase, although my acquaintance with them involves either different or wider usage.
    1. Keen–various meanings including sharp (as in a knife), eager, and intelligent as well as descriptive of a sound. If you and your readers want to hear fine examples of keen mountain voices dating back several generations, Google either Mark Cathey or Wiley Oakley and listen to brief excerpts from recordings Joe Hall made of them in the time period around 1940.
    2. Kernel–I’ve heard it used to describe some type of growth but also in other ways such as: “If that Casada fellow has so much as a kernel of common sense there’s no evidence of it.” Taking matters a step farther, the pronunciation is precisely that mountain folks (and others) used to describe a military rank (colonel).
    3. Your word for a loud splash is one I have always heard with a “p” added; i. e., kersplunge (or kersplash).
    4.I’ve never heard knee-deep used in association with frogs. Rather, it is a description I associate with usages such as “It’s Monday and he’s knee deep in misery just thinking about all the work he has to get done.” Or “That old mountain boy got knee deep wet in citified ways before he realized they weren’t for him.”
    Jim Casada
    P. S. For Eva Nell–That old Jackson County court house turned library and general use public facility is a marvel. In addition to the view, which is indeed spectacular, it has a couple of other significant aspects to me. That was where Mom worked when she and Dad started courting. Also, in a very tiny way I was involved in the efforts to raise funds for the restoration. The local library friends group held Christmas book signings featuring regional authors with the understanding that a portion of the sales would go to the fund. I participated once, mainly because I’m mighty partial to libraries in general since Mom was the librarian at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City in her later years and because I’ve always been a bookworm of the first rank. The event was exceptionally well attended and, from my perspective, thoroughly rewarding.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 12, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I’m familiar with all but kerslunge. We would say kersplat or kerplop!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 8:31 am

    These were new usuages for me. I have heard the words used in different type of situations. Good learning for a Monday morning!

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    May 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Only have heard and used kernel…but it has been a while. They were common 40 years ago. Have not heard the others but the Ozarks are only hills compared to your mountains.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike
    May 12, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Oh my gosh, Tipper! I don’t believe I made a passing grade. That Kerslunge word did me in on the test! Never heard of it.
    But let me tell you that the Net-West Writers’ meeting (in the Court House) over in Sylva on Saturday was wonderful! In all my years of visiting Jim’s folks in Jackson County, I NEVER got to enter that old Court House on the hill. This time it was wonderful – to stand on the balcony and look out over the town and see the mist rising on the mountains. Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Lula Mae Vanwinkle
    May 12, 2014 at 7:34 am

    We lived back a quarter mile road when I was a kid. Toward the beginning of the road was a pond with frogs and my brother, who knew I was scared of water, would tell me I could go swimming in the pond. Of course I would tell him, “no, I’ll drown.” He would tell me that it was only knee deep and that I could just ask the frogs. When I would ask the frogs, they would all say, “knee deep, knee deep.” I believed the frogs but I still would not go near the water.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 12, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Tipper, I didn’t do so good on today’s vocabulary test. I know of keening as a high pitched wail. Never heard kernel or knee-deep used this way and never heard of kersludge. I have heard kerplunk used this way.
    This may be the worst I’ve ever done on a vocabulary test…..since I was in fourth grade.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 12, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Keen I got. The others not so good.
    Kernel I remembered it being used after I read the answer. It was an infected lymph node under your arm, under your ear or in your groin.
    Kerslunge would be kerplunk. Kerplunk is the sound produced when something fairly heavy hits the water. The Ker part is when it first slaps the water. The plunk is when the displaced water rushes back into the hole that the object made.
    Knee-deeps are called that because that’s what they say.
    Bullfrogs make a roaring sound like a mad bull. My brother in law has a fish pond with bullfrogs. On a quiet still summer evening about twilight as you sit there and doze, one of them will cut loose with a roar that will make you check your underwear.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 12, 2014 at 7:17 am

    This is my favorite blog of the month.
    Kerslunge is new, we say kerplop or kaplop.
    Kernal I hear but don’t use
    Knee Deep is not used for a bull frog, but as in trouble or a mess, but I can see the relationship and maybe it is one of those words that have changed meanings around here.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Familiar with first two, but hadn’t heard the others. Really enjoy these vocal. tests.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 6:43 am

    I’ve heard all of them used, I only use Knee-deep often.. A keen voice is like finger nails on a chalk board to me….

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